[GRA: Most of these are beyond my control here being a renter, but I did make sure this place was well-insulated (as well as being quite small, only about 350 ft.^2) before moving in, and I employ movable insulation in the windows and passive solar techniques as needed year-round. I also do my washes in warm or cold water and use a clothesline, not only for the free energy but because clothes last longer than when using a dryer.
People sometimes ask me “What should I do?” Table 29.3 indicates eight
simple personal actions I’d recommend, and a very rough indication of the
savings associated with each action. Terms and conditions apply. Your
savings will depend on your starting point. The numbers in table 29.3
assume the starting point of an above-average consumer.
Simple action possible saving
Put on a woolly jumper and turn down your heat-
ing’s thermostat (to 15 or 17 °C, say). Put individual
thermostats on all radiators. Make sure the heating’s
off when no-one’s at home. Do the same at work. 20 kWh/d
[GRA's actions: I've long done this, although it's only set that low (59-62.6 deg. F.) when I'm going to sleep, and I'd typically have it at 20 deg. C/68 deg. F. when I'm awake. I keep the stove and gas wall furnace pilots off from about April to November. I relit the former in late-September and the latter Nov. 3rd, and so far this fall haven't had to turn the furnace on owing to good insulation, passive solar and warmer than normal weather].
Read all your meters (gas, electricity, water) every
week, and identify easy changes to reduce consump-
tion (e.g., switching things off). Compare competi-
tively with a friend. Read the meters at your place of
work too, creating a perpetual live energy audit. 4 kWh/d
[GRA: Not really a useful option currently as I share a meter with the main house, although I know our combined usage of electricity is quite low even in winter, averaging about 5kWh/day. Gas is another matter, but I have no control over their consumption].
Stop flying. 35 kWh/d
[GRA: Since 2001, although I never did a lot of commercial flying - it was mostly private planes].
Drive less, drive more slowly, drive more gently, car-
pool, use an electric car, join a car club, cycle, walk,
use trains and buses. 20 kWh/d
GRA: 68k miles in my almost 17 y.o. bought new ICE car, only 12k over the past 8 years, but that doesn't include trips with others in their cars, so that might boost my total car mileage to 18k or, being really generous, 24k for that period. albeit at double or more the pax. mpg. Drive more slowly, no. Drive more gently, always except when I really need to get somewhere soonest. Car pool, no, my bike's my commute vehicle. Electric car, not yet. Car club (MaaS?), no. Cycle, Yes, anything within 3 and usually 5 miles, longer if I've got the time/want the exercise. Walk, yes, anything within 0.5 and up to 1.0 mile, with the bike phasing in over that distance. Use trains and buses, yes for electric trains (BART) for intra-regional trips beyond bike range, and/or in conjunction with same].
Keep using old gadgets (e.g. computers); don’t re-
place them early. 4 kWh/d
[GRA: Always, but as for computers, when my last laptop died I didn't replace it, and now just use public computers in libraries, which is where I'm typing this. Keeps me from spending inordinate amounts of my free time online and/or playing video games, and I also walk or cycle to the library so get the health benefits].
Change lights to fluorescent or LED. 4 kWh/d
[GRA: Bought my last incandescent bulb around 1989, when I bought my first CFL. The latter cost $20-$28 then. Bought my first LEDs recently, and have been gradually replacing the CFLs as they burn out. The CFLs get recycled at the local household haz. waste facility, presumably keeping their mercury out of the environment].
Don’t buy clutter. Avoid packaging. 20 kWh/d
[GRA: Less than I should, but I do try to avoid it].
Eat vegetarian, six days out of seven. 10 kWh/d
[GRA: I'm a flexitarian rather than a vegetarian, but I do eat a lot less meat than I used to, although I do eat a fair amount of cheese and yogurt. I haven't checked in a while, but I'd guesstimate I go meatless four or five days a week now].
Whereas the above actions are easy to implement, the ones in table 29.4
take a bit more planning, determination, and money.
Major action possible saving
Eliminate draughts. 5 kWh/d
Double glazing. 10 kWh/d
Improve wall, roof, and floor insulation. 10 kWh/d
Solar hot water panels. 8 kWh/d
Photovoltaic panels. 5 kWh/d
Knock down old building and replace by new. 35 kWh/d
Replace fossil-fuel heating by ground-source or
air-source heat pumps. 10 kWh/d
Finally, table 29.5 shows a few runners-up: some simple actions with
Action possible saving
Wash laundry in cold water. 0.5 kWh/d
Stop using a tumble-dryer; use a clothes-line
or airing cupboard. 0.5 kWh/d
No one is perfect, and we all make decisions as to what we can and are willing to do based on our lifestyles and circumstances. Whenever I feel any tendency whatsoever to feel holier than someone else, I remind myself that as someone living in the U.S., regardless of how low my direct personal energy use is, my share of the energy used to just run all of our infrastructure, including the internet, heat, electricity, roads, water, sewers, manufacturing, transport of goods etc., is still greater than the total per-capita energy consumption of the average European, never mind the far lower per-capita consumption of someone in China (although rapidly increasing), let alone a resident of a country like India.